July 22, 2016 - 12:29 pm - Posted in News

Hull, Iowa — A Hull woman facing federal charges in connection with an allegedly fraudulent ticket selling scheme is planning on taking a plea bargain.
Federal Courthouse Sioux City
According to court documents, federal charges of Mail Fraud, and Making and Subscribing False Income Tax Return have been filed against Ranae Van Roekel. Documents indicate an initial appearance, arraignment, and plea hearing will take place on Thursday, July 28. 2016. at 2:30 PM, before United States Magistrate Judge C.J. Williams.

The documents go on to state that the court has been advised that Van Roekel will be pleading guilty pursuant to a plea agreement, the terms of which have not been disclosed.

Court documents accuse Van Roekel of using the internet, phone networks, and the U.S. Mail to defraud people attempting to buy tickets through her home-based business, “Get ‘Em Tickets Now”, from January, 2008 through June, 2012.  She is accused of obtaining money through the mail from customers, claiming to have access to tickets to various events, including the 2012 Super Bowl, which she did not have.  Court documents say she went so far as to claim to be a member of the Super Bowl Planning Committee.  She is specifically charged for receiving a check through the mail for $1,664 for four pre-purchased tickets to the 2012 Super Bowl.  All told, Van Roekel is charged with fraudulently obtaining more than a half million dollars.

The false income tax return charge alleges that Van Roekel knowingly filed a false and fraudulent Federal Income Tax Form 1040 for the 2010 calendar year.

July 21, 2016 - 4:22 pm - Posted in News

Hull, Iowa — A Sanborn teen was taken to the hospital after an accident near Hull on Wednesday, July 20th.
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The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office reports that about , at 4:44 PM, 44-year-old Cheryl Kroese of Sanborn was driving a 2001 Chrysler school-owned van transporting students for the Hartley‐Melvin‐Sanborn Community School District, westbound on Highway 18 at Perkins Corner, two miles west of Hull. They report that 29-year-old Eric Kats of Rock Valley was driving a 1993 Honda Civic westbound on 320th Street behind Kroese; and that 25-year-old Justin Dekkers of Ireton was westbound behind Kats in a 2005 GMC pickup.

According to the report, Kroese stopped the school van for the stop sign at Highway 75. Kats stopped behind Kroese and was struck by Dekkers. The impact caused the Kats Honda to strike the school van Kroese was driving.
  
The Hull Ambulance crew transported a passenger in the school van, 15-year-old Trinity Lux of Sanborn to the Sheldon Hospital. Kats reported minor injuries and sought medical treatment on his own.

The Chrysler school van sustained about $500 in damages, says the Sheriff’s Office. They say the Honda and the GMC sustained an estimated $2,500 in damages, each.

Dekkers was cited on a charge of following too closely.

The Sheriff’s Office says the Hull Ambulance crew assisted on the scene.

Sioux Center, Iowa — The Sioux Center electrical system is nearly back to normal again, after an explosion and fire last fall at one of their substations — that according to Sioux Center Utilities Engineer Matt Van Schouwen.

file photo

file photo

He says that contractors and city crews switched to the new replacement equipment at the Tower Fields substation last night (Tuesday, July 19th).

Van Schouwen says that while they have some cleanup and minor jobs to do yet, this is a major step in getting things back to normal

He says the substation that serves customers in the central and southern areas of Sioux Center exploded early on November 21st, leaving half the town of 75-hundred without electricity. As if the power outage wasn’t enough, the community also suffered a major water main break at the same time, leaving hundreds of homes and businesses without power or water.

Van Schouwen says while they don’t know exactly what happened, they know there was a fault, and while the fault was being repaired, a circuit breaker did not trip like it was supposed to, causing a significant amount of electricity to short circuit, which sparked the explosion and fire. Reports at the time indicated that nearby transformer boxes were knocked off their foundations due to the explosion.

He says they really appreciate the understanding and support of Sioux Center residents and their patience in dealing with the outage and the city’s requests to conserve electricity in the aftermath and while repairs were made.

July 19, 2016 - 4:44 pm - Posted in News

Boyden, Iowa — A Boyden woman is facing federal charges in connection with an allegedly fraudulent ticket selling scheme.

According to court documents, federal charges of Mail Fraud, and Making and Subscribing False Income Tax Return have been filed against Ranae Van Roekel.

Court documents accuse Van Roekel of using the internet, phone networks, and the U.S. Mail to defraud people attempting to buy tickets through her home-based business, “Get ‘Em Tickets Now”, from January, 2008 through June, 2012.  She is accused of obtaining money through the mail from customers, claiming to have access to tickets to various events, including the 2012 Super Bowl, which she did not have.  Court documents say she went so far as to claim to be a member of the Super Bowl Planning Committee.  She is specifically charged for receiving a check through the mail for $1,664 for four pre-purchased tickets to the 2012 Super Bowl.  All told, Van Roekel is charged with fraudulently obtaining more than a half million dollars.

The false income tax return charge alleges that Van Roekel knowingly filed a false and fraudulent Federal Income Tax Form 1040 for the 2010 calendar year.

July 19, 2016 - 2:32 pm - Posted in News

Maurice, Iowa — A Sioux Falls man escaped injury Monday (July 18th) afternoon when the truck he was driving hit a cow near Maurice.

Sioux County authorities say 34-year old Brian Huerkamp, of Sioux Falls, was driving a 2007 International semi‐truck southbound on Highway 75, three miles south of Maurice, when he struck a cow on the roadway.

Huerkamp was uninjured in the crash.  Damage to the semi was estimated at $4,000, and the cow had an estimated value of $1,200.

The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office investigated the accident.

Rock Rapids, Iowa — There’s a youth mentoring program available in Sioux and Lyon counties, similar to Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
ATLAS of Lyon County
The new program is a joint venture between ATLAS of Lyon County and Justice For All in Rock Valley. The non-profits have similar goals including helping others and uniting the community in Christ. Beth Judd, who works for both organizations, tells us more about the youth mentoring program.

She says it’s for middle and high school students ages 12 to 18.

She tells us what kind of adults they’re looking for to be mentors.

She says that mentoring involves regular interaction.

She says while they are working with the public schools, the program is not limited to those schools.

Judd tells us why the program was developed.

Application forms for mentors and youth can be found at Justice For All in Rock Valley or ATLAS of Lyon County in Rock Rapids, and they’ll soon be available at Justice For All’s web site, jfa-nwiowa.org. She says online training for mentors is also available, and that parents of mentored youth do need to consent to their child or children participating in the program. She says there are also some requirements for potential mentors.

Judd says that while they’ll consider applicants at all times, they’re looking to line up mentors and youth before school starts this fall.

July 15, 2016 - 2:01 pm - Posted in News

Matlock, Iowa — The case of a Matlock man facing two counts of sexual abuse is scheduled to go to trial next week.
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According to court records, Sioux County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested 30-year-old Daren Thomas Leikvold of Matlock at his home on a warrant on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Court records indicate that Leikvold is accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old on two separate occasions. The incidents are alleged to have occurred in October of last year, and in January of this year.

Court records indicate that Leikvold has waived his right to a jury trial, so after a pre-trial conference, which has been scheduled for Monday (July 18) at 1 PM, the bench trial is scheduled for Tuesday (July 19) at 9 AM.

Orange City, Iowa — A bio-engineering firm from Des Moines is interested in building a bio-refinery in Sioux County. The bio-refinery would turn biomass into a flammable gas.
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Ecoengineers, a private consulting firm and project developer from the Des Moines area presented their proposal to the Sioux County Board Of Supervisors this week, according to Sioux County Auditor Lois Huitink. She says the firm had previously done a study of biomass sources in Iowa, and Sioux County was identified as the richest source of biomass in northwest Iowa.

Now, Ecoengineers wants to do a study to find the best place in Sioux County for such a facility. They said that their study would probably focus on three areas: the old Bison Energy plant north of Sioux Center on Highway 75 and/or the Agropur wastewater plant near Hull; the Sioux Center and Orange City waste treatment plants, and a central location near a high number of confined animal feedlots.

Ecoengineers have asked Sioux County to pay for the study, which is projected to cost $33,000.

Huitink says her understanding is that Ecoengineers wants to build bio-digesters that can turn biomass into biogas, which could be returned to the gas system.

She says the board did not act on the request, but would prefer that Ecoengineers come back and tell them more about their plans before making a decision. No date for such a meeting has been set at this time.

July 13, 2016 - 3:39 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Despite not having a permit to cross all rivers in Iowa, Dakota Access has begun construction on its Bakken crude oil pipeline in all areas along the pipeline’s route through Iowa.

file photo

file photo

Lisa Dillinger, a media relations specialist with the Dakota Access Pipeline division of Energy Transfer Partners confirms that construction activities began in the southeast and northwest areas of the state in early June. She says construction activities in our area will ramp up in the coming months.

The Army Corps of Engineers has not signed off on the project for all rivers that the pipeline will cross. On Wednesday, July 13th, in communication with KIWA, Dillinger stated that they had not yet received a permit to cross the Big Sioux River between South Dakota and Iowa. But on Thursday, July 14th Dillinger said that Dakota Access does not need a special permit to cross the Big Sioux. She says that since they will be boring UNDER the river instead of digging a trench, they only need a Sovereign Lands Permit, which they received in March. Dillinger says Dakota Access continues to work with the Army Corps to receive permits in all four states as quickly as possible in order to limit construction activities to one growing season and be in service by the end of this year. She says they don’t know exactly how long it will take the Army Corps to issue the permits, but they hope to receive them as soon as possible.

Native American leaders said earlier this year that a portion of the land in Lyon County was a culturally-significant site that shouldn’t be disturbed. Dillinger says that in order to avoid the site in question, they will bore the pipeline to a depth between 80 and 100 feet through a horizontal-direction drill. She says that will allow them to avoid all surface disturbance through the Big Sioux River Wildlife Management Area inclusive of the potential site, during construction and throughout the ongoing operation of the pipeline.

Dillinger says, “We have incorporated the protection of sensitive areas and cultural resources from the very start of the project and we will continue to do so.”

By using directional boring, the pipeline won’t disturb the culturally-significant ground above it according to authorities, so the stop-work order that had been issued was removed.

State Archaeologist John Doershuck reportedly signed off on the idea as a “satisfactory avoidance procedure”, but some Native American leaders were not happy with the decision.

July 13, 2016 - 3:02 pm - Posted in News

Iowa DOT new logo 2014Northwest Iowa — Three Iowa Department of Transportation facilities in northwest Iowa will close later this summer, as part of an overall downsizing plan by the DOT.

The DOT maintenance garages in Rock Valley, and Akron are two of seven statewide to be closed, along with garages in Cenerville, Corning, Gowrie, Sabula, and Soldier.  The DOT says the 28 employees who work out of those facilities will be given a chance to work in other DOT offices with “higher service demands.”

In addition, the DOT will be closing their Driver’s License Station in Spencer, as well as another in Carroll, on August 31st.

This downsizing follows a budget fight in the legislature. Republicans in the House were skeptical of the DOT’s request for nearly $10 million extra to cover negotiated union salary increases and would agree to only provide half that much, Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer explained.

D-O-T officials say the extra tax revenue from last year’s increase in the state fuel tax must be used on roads and bridges and cannot be used to cover salaries. Earlier this year, Republican Governor Terry Branstad talked with reporters about the budget conflict.

In mid-May, the DOT’s director announced he would hire more private consultants rather than full-time state employees, to save on salary costs. DOT officials announced this week that nearly 70 full-time positions in the department will remain vacant for the next 12 months as well.